Figuring it out


The U.S. economy keeps throwing up surprises, so those of us who are the managers of smaller and mid-market companies are left scratching our heads trying to figure out what's behind this and more importantly what are we to do. 

Let's take a look at what we see happening:

  • The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. added 272,000 jobs in May, up from 165,000 in April and much higher than any economists’ expectations. This also comes on the heels of a string of recent weak economic reports including soft income and spending data for April and a lower-than-expected reading on manufacturing output in May.

    Point #1:  Read and listen to these reports with caution and remember that most economists have never run a business.  Yes, jobs were surprisingly up, but of that number, 42,000 were in leisure and hospitality simply because it's summer.
  • Companies have been warning in recent weeks that consumers are pulling back. Campbell Soup, owner of Pepperidge Farm and other snack brands, just lowered its sales forecast because it said shoppers are increasingly economizing on snack purchases.

    Point #2:  Personally, I don't see this at all in my weekly trips to Market Basket, but do not generalize what might or might not be happening in the B2C world and bring that thought process into our B2B world.  Two very different decision making processes with very different outcomes.
  • Jobs are up, at the same time layoffs are being announced. There are also cautionary disconnects in Friday's May jobs report, but the bottom line is that the overall unemployment rate continues to be low at 4.0% down from 6.3% just a year ago.   

    Point #3:  Do what you need to do in hiring, but be very cautious about delaying hiring on any salespeople or engineers, where it's currently taking 3-4 months just to identify, recruit and hire plus another 12 months to successfully onboard and get up to ramp speed in terms of full productivity. Our numbers show that it takes a full 18 months to get a B2B salesperson up to ramp speed. Once you get behind in the hiring curve, it's very difficult to catch up. 

    Point #4:  Still cautious about hiring?  Then take 100 hours of your time every year and consistently get into the market and look for "future draft choices".  Have breakfasts and make appointments at  industry conferences. Target specific people and let them know about your business and although you're not hiring just now, you want to continue to get to talk and let them know about your business.  

    Point #5:  No matter where you are half way through your 2024 plan, now is not the time to cut  back on your marketing spend.  Go ahead and adjust tactics and maybe even players if the lead gen math is not working, but in a time of caution and uncertainty, marketing counts more than ever in top-of-funnel activity unless you want to your expensive salespeople to generate all of their own leads which is never a good idea!

Just a couple of thoughts to kickstart what looks like a beautiful week ahead!  Have a great day selling today!


As anyone knows who has followed this blog for a while, I'm a devoted student of the teachings of Sun Tzu, and as I think about my own planning and figuring it out for the balance of this critical month half way through the year,  I'm reminded this morning of...

Those who are victorious plan effectively and change decisively. They are like a great river that maintains its course but adjusts its flow...they have form but are formless. They are skilled in both planning and adapting and need not fear the result of a thousand battles: for they win in advance, defeating those that have already lost.



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For a few ideas on Sales and improving the productivity of your own team, you can click here for this brand new  "Writing the Winning Sales Plan in 2024"for a few ideas on structure, sales models, process funnels and a number of productivity tools and how to recruit and hire the best.  
Derby Entrepreneurship Center@Tufts.


Tags: 2024 sales and marketing best practices, 2024 Sales Planning, 2024 Business Planning, 2024 Marketing Planning